Russian forces are allegedly preparing a large-scale false-flag operation involving the gathering of deceased civilian residents of Mariupol killed by the Russian military, and presenting them as the victims of Ukrainian troops, according to the Security Service of Ukraine.
"The main task of Russian propaganda today is to divert the attention of the audience, both international and domestic, as much as possible," the Security Service of Ukraine said in a telegram post.
Although evidence has surfaced of the killings that occurred in Bucha, Russia denies the claims completely and has instead blamed Ukraine for performing the acts, which included citizens who were tied up and shot, mutilated bodies and dead bodies of civilians laying on roads and streets.
Russia, in turn, is also blaming Ukraine for purposely staging filming of civilians allegedly killed by the Russian Armed Forces, the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov claimed.
"According to confirmed information, on the evening of April 4 in the village of Moshchun, 23 km north-west of Kyiv, servicemen of the 72nd Ukrainian main center of psychological operations conducted another staged filming of civilians allegedly killed by the violent actions of the Russian armed forces for subsequent distribution through the western Media: Similar events are now organized by the Ukrainian special services in Sumy, Konotop and other cities," Konashenkov said.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that allegations Russian forces committed war crimes by executing civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha were a "monstrous forgery" aimed at denigrating the Russian army.
"It is simply a well-directed - but tragic - show," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "It is a forgery aimed at denigrating the Russian army - and it will not work."
"We once again urge the international community: detach yourself from such emotional perceptions and think with your head," Peskov said. "Compare the facts and understand what a monstrous forgery we are dealing with."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that while what happened in Bucha was unforgivable, Ukraine had no choice but to negotiate with Russia to end the war, now in its sixth week.
"All of us, including myself, will perceive even the possibility of negotiations as a challenge," Zelensky said in an interview broadcast on national television. He said it was not clear whether he and Russian President Vladimir Putin would speak directly.
Russian news agency Interfax cited a deputy Russian foreign minister as saying talks, which last convened on Friday, were continuing via video link. There was no update from the Ukrainian side.
Zelensky said earlier that at least 300 civilians had been killed in Bucha and that many more dead were likely to be found in other areas. He said he would address the United Nations Security Council later in the day as he builds support for an investigation into the killings.
Russian media have been recently circulating the notion that Ukrainians are using civilians as human shields. This has been dismissed by official Ukrainian sources.